Arkansas Passes the ‘Idaho Stop,’ Allowing Cyclists to Treat Red Lights Like Stop Signs

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signs Idaho Stop Legislation. Photo courtesy of Arkansas State Parks
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signs Idaho Stop Legislation. Photo courtesy of Arkansas State Parks

Arkansas became the second state in the nation to legalize the Idaho Stop on Monday, the biggest breakthrough yet for the iconic 35-year-old bike safety law.

The Idaho Stop — named for the first state that allowed it — gives cyclists the right to treat stop signs as “yields” and red lights as stop signs. Arkansas state lawmakers hope the new law will offer both health and business benefits.

“This is a win for everyone in the state,” State Senator Missy Irvin, who co-sponsored the legislation, said in a statement. “I was proud to bring a bill forward that made our roads safer for cyclists, improved traffic flow and boosts tourism.”

Governor Asa Hutchinson signed the measure making it official yesterday.

The Idaho Stop, first passed in 1982, has been shown to have pretty significant safety benefits. Bicycle injuries dropped 14 percent in Idaho the year following its passage. A 2010 study by Berkeley researcher Jason Meggs found bike safety was about 30 percent better in Idaho cities than comparable peers.

“This act is likely to improve the safety of bicyclists by promoting the use of side streets and lessening the time that bicyclist are exposed to dangers at intersections,” said league of American Bicyclists Policy Director Ken McLeod said in statement marking the Arkansas bill’s passage.

More and more states and cities have considered Idaho Stop legislation in recent years. In 2017, Delaware approved a variation on the Idaho Stop, which locals affectionately refer to as the “Delaware Yield.” It applies only to stop signs.

Meanwhile, Utah’s House of Representatives passed Idaho Stop legislation, but it has been held up in the Senate. The Idaho Stop was also considered in San Francisco and Portland in recent years as well, though neither city went ahead with it.

Joe Jacobs, a marketing manager with Arkansas State Parks told Streetsblog making the business argument for the rule change was important.

“The key to getting it passed was the perfect combination of governor’s support, private non-profit support, and working with experienced legislators,” he said. “Also, the work of the tourism industry in promoting the state as being bicycle-friendly can’t be overstated in the success of the bill.”

For a longer explanation of the benefits of the Idaho Stop, check out this great video by Portland videographer Spencer Boomhower.

 

35 thoughts on Arkansas Passes the ‘Idaho Stop,’ Allowing Cyclists to Treat Red Lights Like Stop Signs

  1. Good this passed, and I’m also glad it allows a red light to be treated as a yield, instead of a stop-and-proceed. Fundamentally, there’s no difference between yielding at a stop sign or a red light. No reason to require a complete stop at red lights as it gives cops an excuse to ticket cyclists.

    I wish all 50 states would have this as the law. NYC especially sorely needs this, if for no other reason than to end the disproportionate ticketing of cyclists.

  2. Joe R. Actually the law is the same as Idaho. Treat a red light as a stop sign. No roll.

  3. This seems more symptomatic of engineers not understanding the appropriate application of traffic lights, stop signs or yield signs. Changing the definition of something that works fundamentally the same the world over isn’t smart. It works in Idaho because 3 people live there. Cherlene, Ed and Billybob can get out of each other’s way relatively easily.

  4. I’m from Idaho, haven’t driven a car in 18 years, but if you want to insult my homies, you need to put a “La” in front of our names, like LaVerne or LaBob. Meanwhile, you can take a hike on your bike.

  5. Boise is one of the fastest growing suburban hell scapes in the country. Land use is generally abysmal and the bus system is a joke, but downtown Boise is actually nice and pretty bike friendly.

  6. From the article you’re commenting on, “In 2017, Delaware approved a variation on the Idaho Stop, which locals affectionately refer to as the “Delaware Yield.” It applies only to stop signs.”

  7. The red light is being treated as a stop. There can be a fundamental difference between stop signs and lights, roads with stop lights are more likely to be wider and higher speed.

  8. While this is true, and even the Netherlands doesn’t have an Idaho stop rule, unfortunately we’re stuck with our built infrastructure for now. It’s totally true we’ve used stop signs where yields will often do, and traffic signals where either stop signs or yield signs or even roundabouts would be more appropriate. It’s sad that so many people in this country think an appropriate use of stop signs and traffic lights is to slow down cars.

    The real solution is of course to do as the Dutch did. Unravel bike routes from car routes, and remove as many traffic signals and stop signs from those bike routes as possible. Indeed, on a lot of bike routes in the Netherlands now it’s possible to go a number of miles without stopping for a traffic light. Often when there are traffic lights, it’s not to stop bikes but to stop motor traffic so bikes don’t have to stop. And then there are overpasses or underpasses at many busy, dangerous intersections so the cyclist can avoid delay. Since we’re not likely to see anything like this in the states for a long time, the best halfway solution is Idaho stop laws. At least they acknowledge that stopping and waiting the full cycle at red lights is unduly burdensome and unnecessary from a safety standpoint.

  9. It’s worth pointing out that due to the prevalence of (turbo)roundabouts and 30 km/h zones in The Netherlands, even motorists can go for miles without coming to a required stop.

  10. Yes and no. Unfortunately in many cases traffic signals are used in places where a stop or yield sign will work just fine. Their use should really be restricted to intersections with very poor, uncorrectable lines of sight (i.e. bridge abutments blocking the view of cross traffic), and/or very busy intersections, although for the latter often roundabouts will suffice.

  11. Very true but ill take what we can get! Also california and colorado passed laws for cities to pilot the stop as yield. CA will decide in 2025 whether to make it permanent across the state! It should be obvious given the proven safety benefits statistically but we’ll see how long public opinion holds.

  12. Yes, that’s a fundamental difference between Europe and the USA. Often even though speed limits are lower in Europe, overall average travel speeds are higher because the roads are designed to keep everyone in motion. The Dutch have taken that to an extreme with bicycles but as you say they try to do so even for cars.

  13. Here in CO the state law requires cities to use the language from the state, so that it’s the same in all cities that adopt it, reducing confusion. And that as a bare minimum should definitely be adopted by all states.

  14. “It’s sad that so many people in this country think an appropriate use of stop signs and traffic lights is to slow down cars.”

    Since we design our streets to encourage speed, it is appropriate to use them that way in many cases.

    Which makes me wonder, how much better would our communities be and how much land could be repurposed if a foot or two was taken from these high speed lanes and given to sidewalks, bike lanes and trees were planted.

  15. Absolutely, here in Denver we have so many stop lights, it’s crazy. I’d love to know the amount of money that could be saved between the capital and operating costs of converting stop lights to stop and yield signs.

  16. The irony though is they don’t even really work when used for that purpose. If you put stop signs on every block, motorists will race between them to make up for the time they lose stopping. If you use traffic lights, you have the infamous result of people speeding to make the light.

    If we don’t want speeding, then we should just not design our streets for speeding.

  17. Yep, certainly for many people. There’s this great one block area by me that has a bunch of restaurants, liquor store, convenience store and a grocery store where a lot of people walk. I requested that they make it a four way stop from a two way but was told that they wouldn’t since there was a light one block away and people would accelerate faster after the stop sign to make up their lost time.

  18. You sound up on the issues. It’s great to have an ally online. Thank you for helping to spread useful information on this important topic! It’s also great to live in a time when finally lawmakers are realizing that cars and bicycles are different.

  19. I think I agree with this in theory, but in reality, “design our streets not for speeding” is not as easy as it sounds. People can and will drive extremely fast just about anywhere, including narrow streets with low visibility. Basically, Americans are generally individualistic assholes and anything we do has to acknowledge that.

    Add that even accommodating delivery vehicles even at 5 MPH and fire trucks often means stupidly wide curb radii, and well…you know where we end up.

  20. I agree, the long term solution is both: Start actually getting the traffic engineers to show their work on stop and yield signs, and build some good bike infra.

    However, Idaho Stop isn’t a band-aid, it’s a traffic supercollider.

  21. Not saying there isn’t a diamond in the turd on this one. Just commenting on the size of the turd.

  22. @Baloo Uriza – You allude to “the world over,” but the fact is that most of the world doesn’t put STOP signs at nearly every freaking intersection. And the fact underlying that fact is that we’ve deployed all these STOP signs not to actually stop cars (the groovy and mellow California Rolling Stop is a thing, for cars), but to slow them down to something vaguely approximating a speed limit.

    In summary:
    – SPEED LIMIT means a car goes 5 or 10 mph over, more if possible
    – STOP means slow the car down a little
    – If a bicycle doesn’t STOP, it’s the downfall of civilization

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  24. This is simply not accurate. Reducing sight lines, lane width and adding uncontrolled intersections absolutely do ‘slow traffic down’ as an added benefit, it’s way cheaper than asphalting massive expanses of our communities

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